Dance Day 7, You can Ring my Bell

9:19 pm

I did Zumba today in Miami.  There was a studio in Aventura that I always wanted to go to.  Finally, I got a chance to take a class.  The teacher was a small woman in her fifties.  She danced with her back to us, most Zumba teachers do, it’s easier to follow dance moves.  The great thing about this studio was that it had the floor to ceiling mirrors on all sides.  In our Park Slope yoga studio, there are no mirrors so when we are dancing we can’t see our teacher’s face expressions, just her amazing moving butt.

The only disadvantages to the mirrors was that I would think this teacher was in her early twenties if it wasn’t for the mirrors.  I walked in late when the class was already going.  In my busy baby life, I am often late to Zumba classes.  Short Zumba is better than no Zumba.  The teacher was one of those salsa dancing ladies who don’t smile.  She smiled to great me but most of the class her face was serious.  Salsa is serious business, I agree.  She would yell “Salsa” in a commanding voice or clap for us to switch moves.  Even in my first class, I could follow.  She was clear and she was watching us through the mirror.  At one point I was using my left foot instead of my right and she yelled, “Switch feet.”  I liked it, she cared.  In my NY class I could be sleeping behind her back, the teacher would never know.

Out of all the Zumba songs, Ring my Bell by Anita Ward came on in the middle.  Ding, Ding, Ding (literally) a synchronous event letting me know that I am in the right place at the right time!  I was not prepared when leaving NY for my dancethon so I didn’t have appropriate music in my iPod.   Right now it’s mostly filled with Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, Jeff Buckley, Lots of baby music, Russian music and random mixes.  Ring my Bell happens to be on my iPod so it’s the song that I’ve been dancing to a lot.  I’ve been working on my moves for that song.  It’s also not a Zumba song.  Zumba music is usually Latin inspired or world music.  Ring my Bell is straight disco.  So not bad, yesterday synchronicity and today.  I am finally doing something right.

One of the things I love about Capitalism is Zumba.  From what I am gathering, Zumba is a franchise.  It seems crazy that you can franchise dancing to music but you can.  And you should if that helps people dance more.  Same thing happened to Bikram.  I am not going to look it up but I am willing to bet that more people have tried Bikram Yoga than regular yoga.  I am totally guessing here.  I have tried Bikram Yoga and I usually hate/love it (sorry Elizabeth and Jamie).  For ME, it takes out everything pure and holy about yoga.  The quiet voice of the teacher, the gentle approach to one’s body, the calming of the mind.  Bikram is a great workout but it’s not a spiritual practice for me.  The only spiritual benefit I get out of it is the sauna effect of sweating out all my impurities.  I get upset that its called Yoga because Yoga means the body and mind connection.  Sorry Bikram.

I only realized it was a franchise from another yoga teacher who was upset about Bikram not following the rules of “real” yoga.  He could not swallow the fact that Bikram is a franchise.  How can you franchise yoga?  I used to agree with that teacher and I am still torn about that topic to be honest.  But the fact that Bikram is spreading like wildfire is amazing!  More people than ever get a chance to experience some form of yoga.  And bad yoga is better than no yoga.

What franchise is selling here is an easy package for the teacher to follow.  They don’t have to create anything from scratch, there is a cake mix.  If they want to teach yoga, they just have to take a course, follow the instructions, get a certificate and voila.  They just plug themselves into an existing system that is already efficient.  If they want to dance Zumba, get a Zumba certificate and teach in every gym in the country.

For the purist in me,  I wish I could find that special dance class or that special yoga class with that teacher who is has invented their own brilliant technique.  For the realist in me, thank god for those franchises that help to make yoga and dance accessible to all.  And all these Zumba teachers who I am meeting are really good in their own way.  You can make a franchise but the fact that people are teaching it makes every class individual.  Maybe if tango was franchised, more people would know how to dance it.

I want to apply these theories to myself.  It’s great to have good ideas but no one will see my ideas unless I have a business backing them.  A way to get out the good ideas into the world.  Sometimes, I make an awesome piece of jewelry.  Really awesome by all human standards, I think 🙂  And then I sell like 3 of pieces of it total, and end up retiring it and giving the sample away to my sister (she can appreciate the true brilliance of my work).  Thank god for good sisters 🙂

I think Buddha and Jesus are some of the earliest franchisees.  They found a way to package their story so that its attainable to other people and then trained people in their craft.  Jesus had 12 disciples.  They were his personal staff.  Buddha taught a very rigid methodology of enlightenment.  These guys didn’t sit alone in their rooms pondering.  They were out on business trips all day long, training people.  The franchises that they created are still with us today.  How nice it would be to learn from them directly the methodology, but once again, bad enlightenment is better than no enlightenment.

10:57 pm

disclaimer:  please don’t take that last line seriously, it only works in the context


5 responses to “Dance Day 7, You can Ring my Bell

  1. ya know, it is funny because within the church there are all these different sectors, just like within yoga. And some churches don’t see the other churches as being ”actual christians.” Or like Mormons for example—I met a girl on an airplane once that was mormon, and also sweet as could be (we talked to whole plane ride) and we talked about christianity and mormonism… Anyways, Christians don’t consider Mormons to also be christians, but Mormons DO consider themselves to be Christians. Weird.

    It is just interesting how these things start and then break off and even within “yoga” or “Christianity” there are complete different ways of thought, ways of doing things, and belief in the right or wrong way to do it!

    (I was just thinking about this the other day in regards to church, so interesting what you said about yoga, and bikram franchising.)

    • Hi Blue,
      Yes its funny in Judaism its the same. The really religious Jews think the secular Jews got it all wrong. You wouldn’t think that Yoga is so factioned but I guess it is like everything else. Probably Zumba will be too, once its around long enough. Thank you for reading and writing and inspiring.

  2. Okay, I have to speak up for my Bikram Yoga practice… since I happen to LOVE it! First of all, I’m glad you clarified and said that it isn’t spiritual for you, Olia. It’s not for everyone’s spiritual palate. For me, it is… It’s a form of discipline that I crave. It’s a moving meditation where the mind and the body work together, listening carefully to each other. Additionally, the savasana’s and breathing bring awareness. I like the fact that it is the same set of postures each time, because that allows me to really see where I am that day, physically and mentally. I think any form of exercise can be spiritual. I have been to other, traditional yoga classes that have just confused me and made me feel like I was missing something. In Bikram, I can’t miss it. It’s the sweat I can hear rolling off my body and hitting the mat and towel underneath me. It is depth I can achieve in camel pose today that I couldn’t achieve yesterday. It is the smell of feet that you use your mind to overcome! It’s also the number of bodies in a room who are all working together, moving together and suffering together. For some reason, I really like that, and it is profoundly spiritual to me.

    Just had to say it! It’s the only form of exercise practice that I have ever stuck with. And, with a regular practice of 3 times per week, I truly believe that is why I have not been sick at all in the 2 years since I have started.

    I don’t blame you for not liking it, friend. It’s just not your cup of tea. I thank you for trying it though! And, I really love your spin on franchises. I love you, Olia!

    • I love it, yes that’s what I am talking about. Talk to me. I was hoping you would defend your practice. Thank you. I am so glad to hear and see in writing you express your beautiful thoughts and ideas. I want to have a conversation. Tension. Like in improv. I will continue to try Bikram though. I used to not like cats either so I got one. Now I love kitties. I guess I will have to do the bikram challenge 🙂

  3. I just have to add that even clowning has factions! There’s an unspoken hierarchy that inspired my play, “Little Clown Blues” (starring Blue, by the way). From top to bottom, there are the theatrical, classical clowns, circus clowns, rodeo clowns, medical clowns and children’s party clowns. (I know I’m forgetting some…) Now, I don’t believe that this should be the order or that there should be an order of any kind. All clowns have their unique place, even in the classroom. It’s just funny. Yes, funny like a clown, funny. Honk!

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